Friday, February 27, 2009

516 The Stop Light

516 The Stop Light

It has become impossible to do anything without interruption.  There's always something comes along when you're in the middle of something, demands your attention and distracts you from the task at hand.  This must be stopped.

Think about it.  You're sitting at the computer deeply engrossed in your work (of course it would be totally unlike you to be doing personal stuff during office hours and on the company's machine, right?)  First thing you know, there's a "live update" or somesuch that wants you to drop what you're doing and restart the computer.

(Is there such a thing as a "dead update" or maybe a pre-recorded update?  Probably not.)

You're getting dinner ready.  A kid comes in with a scraped knee.

You're sitting down to dinner and the phone rings and it's a telemarketer who hasn't read the latest "Do Not Call" list that you thought you were on.

You get to the best part of the TV movie and at just that moment, three fire trucks, a police car and an ambulance, sirens screaming, and the One Train pass your window simultaneously.  Or the power goes out.

Three ancient drivers are driving 30 in a 65 zone, blocking all the lanes.  Don't bother honking.  They can't hear you, anyway.

Everything is interrupted.   One nut case of a boss thought he had a system figured out.  He put a traffic light over his office door.  Green meant he wasn't doing anything -- or wasn't pretending to do anything, and you could walk in.  Orange meant he was occupied but not with anything important, so knock and come in, but "it better be for a good reason."  And red meant stay out.

Did it work?  No way to tell.  Probably he had fewer interruptions in his day than you do in yours.

We were all kind of hoping he'd put in an electrified fence and on leaving for the day, forget to turn it off.  No such luck.

That was decades ago, and the idea seems not to have caught on.  But the office traffic light points out that this is not a new problem, just one that's escalating.  Or maybe it's not an escalation, just a "surge."

Shrapnel:

--RIP, Fortunoff's, a stunning example of the rags to riches American dream. Experts say they took their eye off the ball, but maybe there was no ball anymore.  But 87 years was a good long life.

--The conservatives' convention in Washington is off to a rousing start.  Is there anything sadder than a bunch of discredited failures gathering to pat themselves on the back and plot a comeback?  It's like a "worst of" album done by Confederate and Soviet nostalgia freaks.

--Does any guy object when a woman either wanders or bursts into a men's' room?  Of course not.  Just don't try the reverse.

Sportnote:  Tim Clark knocked Tiger Woods' out of the tournament, but a year or two from now, Tiger's still going to be Tiger and you'll be saying "Tim Who?"

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

515 Bubble Bath

515 Bubble Bath

By now we're all familiar with the bubble, but not necessarily with The Bubble.

We know about the huge inflation in house prices.

We knew about the technology bubble.

Some of us gained and lost a lotta dough in each.

Now, we're facing an older, bigger, tougher bubble, The Bubble, which no one has bothered to notice, but which has been inflating for seven or eight years.  The Bubble is the stock market.   It's been inflating faster than even health care and college costs.  And the air has been coming out ever rapidly for some months, now.

The Dow, for example, is several thousand points lower than it was this time last year.

And we are shocked.

The Obama Administration says it doesn't use stocks to gauge the state of the US economy.  Fine for them.  But you might.  

Prices soared way above value as Wall Street played musical chairs with your money.  No problem.  Except if the music stops and someone notices there aren't any chairs.

Well, it's not that there are NO chairs. It's just that there aren't nearly enough, and those that ARE there are pretty rickety.  

Those of us who are year-round bears figure the DJIA is heading for a natural level.  Where is that?  Don't know.  Probably 5500-ish.

Here's where the theorists come in.  They'll tell you what will happen after it happens.  The usual stuff.  and they'll try to tell you why.  And they will cover over their blah blah with some high sounding math.  And the math is supposed to make us believe them, because "numbers don't lie."  Hiding behind arithmetic is an old trick.  Fling sme numbers.  People will run, but believe.

But none of them will tell you this:  The GE you bought at $60 and sell for $10 is worth more than the 10 you'll get.  But it wasn't worth $60 back when you bought it, either.  No knock against GE, here.  It's just an example.

Here's another, just for illustration:  The Exxon you buy today for $70 isn't worth $70.  

But neither of these outfits is going under.  

It's just that we've forgotten how to price anything.

What's a house worth?  A car?  A Picasso?  A loaf of bread?  A package of mortgage-based secondary derivative hedge fund hedge clipper? 

It's just a way of showing the bubble and where the air's going -- for now.

Yes, we're all taking a bath.  A bubble bath.  The Bubble bath.

Shrapnel:

--President Obama's sort-of State of the Union speech was what America needed to hear.  More of a pep talk, really.  Or a pep rally, but still what we needed.

--We needed the "Republican reply" from Gov. Jindal of Louisiana even more.  He's the new face of his party.  And he is learning to sugar coat his discredited views such that we're almost convinced there's a reason to take them seriously.

--Whether it's 'Nam, 9/11, the birth of octuplets or the financial meltdown, you don't get it unless you were there.  And most of us haven't been there for most of these fiascos.  But we're going to be.


I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

514 Guns Don't Testify

514 Guns Don't Testify

An eleven year old kid from a farm in Wampum, Pennsylvania is accused of using a shotgun designed for kids to pump a slug or two into his father's pregnant and sleeping fiancee, killing her, killing the eight month fetus, putting the gun back in his room and catching the bus to attend school where he's a fifth grader.

The kid's seven year old sister more or less ratted him out to the cops.  Now he's charged as an adult.  One murder, or two? Eleven years old.

Junior and Daddy used to go hunting, Daddy with his big daddy gun, junior with his pint-sized, short barreled Junior gun.  Togetherness.

Now, everyone's shocked, shocked!

The kid's not talking, of course, not any more.   Cops say he mentioned a mysterious truck on the property around the time he left for school.  They spent the day chasing that down and found... nothing.  But while the kid's no longer talking, his lawyer is.  Boy's innocent, says the lawyer.  That's what he's paid to say.  Wants to put the case into juvenile court.  That's what he's paid to do.

So, now, who's responsible?  The kid, certainly.  The father?  Maybe.  How about the gun?  

We all know "guns don't kill people, people do."  We've been hearing that from the NRA and the survivalists for decades.  Repeated often enough, some believe the lie.

But you can't convict a gun.  And there's a dead woman, and a dead fetus, old enough and large enough to have survived if born at eight months in the womb.

Now we get the friends and the neighbors who say stuff like "we saw no signs of trouble..."  or "...we had no idea he had it in for his soon-to-be stepmother."   The kid will take the stand.  He will tell the judge "I'm not a bad person."

They'll fiddle around in court and jail and mental institutions for ages.

It'll turn up the heat on the never-ending conflict between gunsels and their foes.

"A kid in the country should learn to hunt."  "The thing's one step up from a Saturday Night Special."

Meantime, we'll never hear from the real killer.  Guns don't testify.

Shrapnel:

--How is it that Santelli on CNBC in some of the radio talk show hosts use many of the same catch phrases?  Is there a supplier of right wing  slogans out there?  How does one subscribe?


--Is commentator Santelli on the level when he describes his former financial customers as losers whose bad behavior the rest of us encouraged by supply them with roofs over their heads?  Or is this a ratings ploy to make sure CNBC stays ahead of its competitors?  The guy is one notch away from frothing at the mouth and swallowing his tongue.

--And please note the addition of a new link -- to friend, colleague and fellow cranky upper middle ager John Wydra.  He has done the world an amazing disservice by remaining off the air for some years.  You will never have any doubt about where he stands.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

513 Chimp Down

513 Chimp Down

Travis the chimp is over and out, shot dead by Connecticut cops after he went on a rampage, injured a neighbor, trapped a police officer in his cruiser.  No matter Travis was able to log on to the Internet, brush his teeth with a WaterPik and was potty trained.  He attacked a neighbor and a police officer.  And during a confrontation, that's an automatic death-by-cop and fully justified.

Travis wasn't exactly King Kong.  But two hundred pounds of rage?  That's a lot of simian to wrestle.  And since his owner had already stabbed him in efforts to stop him from further injuring a woman, a friend, whom he'd attacked, this was already one mad monkey.

So everyone feels lousy.  One woman's in critical condition after the mad monkey attack.  The owner is likely distraught -- her companion, raised as a human since birth was dead.  The cop probably feels awful for pulling the trigger.  And there's little doubt how the chimp felt those last few minutes of life.

But the fact remains that while Travis and you are pretty similar, it may not be similar enough for you all to live together in peace and harmony.   Every family has its dysfunctions.  Most of the time, they don't get in the way badly enough or often enough to do permanent damage.

It's really cute to live with a friendly, apparently extraordinarily talented and intelligent animal.   Some chimps and some humans get nasty in their old age.  But in their dotage, chimps retain the ability to do serious damage if so-moved.  And, apparently Travis was so moved, as he demonstrated when he walked to the passenger side of a prowl car, opened the door and cornered the occupant.

So, the real question is should we be have these guys around in the first place?  Even if they're cute.  Potty trained. Able to turn on the computer and find pictures.  

Ask anyone who has one and you'll get an answer like "Travis?  That doesn't happen very much.  He had Lyme Disease, after all.  They gave him Xanax, what do you expect?"  Humanesque as he might have been, maybe Xanax doesn't work for chimps.

You also have to wonder how this case would it have been handled, had it been somewhere other than a small, tony-in-spots seaside city in Connecticut. 

Eventually, we may find out.  Many chimp owners are like gun owners and overprotective parents.


Shrapnel:

--Okay, do you feel more stimulated?  You, neither, right?  Still, it's better than being Travis the Chimp.

--Sirius XM radio got a bailout from Liberty Media and won't declare bankruptcy.  Liberty gets a good chunk of the company in return.  A new version of "Give me Liberty or give me death."

--Radio geniuses figured satellite broadcast would work because we're all used to paying for TV that used to be free.  Not the case.  Not with free "regular" radio and almost-free Internet radio.


I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

512 The Recession Ends

512 The Recession Ends

The recession is over.

Someone had to say it.  And since no one else has stepped forward to declare victory, I feel compelled to fill the void.

This is something we should have done much earlier.  Just as we should have done it in Iraq and should do it now in Afghanistan.

Oh, there are some odds and ends to clean up, but it's over.

The dollar's a little weaker than it should be.

The commercial paper market could use a little goosing.

Stock prices are not yet quite where they should be.

There's a little bit of trouble in the job market, still.

But basically, the economic war is over and we won.

Right about now, you're probably wondering what I'm smoking and trying to figure out how to cop some for yourself.

Delusional idiocy seems to be the order of the day.  So why not a decent delusion, one that makes us feel better and spend more?

We delude ourselves into believing the insolvent banks will become solvent.  We delude ourselves into believing the insolvent car makers will become solvent.  We delude ourselves into believing an inadequately small public works plan is going to set everything right.  So why not go the distance and say everything's Jake and it's just a matter of a bit of time and all the loose ends will be tied or clipped?

But seriously, folks:  The right wingnuts are getting hysterical about the Obama Administration's plans to revive the economy so elegantly put into a WWE-style submission hold by the Bushies.  The talk show types sound like they're not only hysterical, but hysterical and frothing at the mouth.  This is a good sign.  It shows the medicine is working.  The crazier they get, the closer we are to a real end to the recession.

The right has no intellectual rudder.  Buckley is dead.  Newt might as well be.  So the wingnuts will coalesce around the talk show talking heads.  Once you've put the intellectual core in the hands of anti-intellectuals, you're through.  Game over.  You've abdicated your ability to oppose the administration's aims and plans.  Period, end of story.  Go get a burger and a beer.

Shrapnel:

--Plans for the 50th anniversary high school reunion appear to have been canceled.  Just as well.  What would we have done beside brag about our grandchildren and play one-upmanship over our ailments.

--Plans for the semiannual WGBB Radio reunion this coming April continue apace.  Does anyone really want this?  Everyone will attend, and will end up on the floor of a lovely sports bar in Moote Pointe, NY called the Tree House, except those who will liaise at the Gateway Motel, the only sleep over venue within walking distance.

--Sent the annual birthday greeting to Mike Bloomberg the other day and he responded with a kindly note.  Thought about not doing it in protest over all those firings. But my inner name-dropping-star-fucker side took over.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

511 Help Wanted

511 Help Wanted

You interested in a good government job?  How about Secretary of Commerce.  

No one seems to want it -- at least no one without lobbying, tax or ideological problems.

First, there was Bill Richardson.  Governor of New Mexico, stellar negotiator, international mediator, and all around good guy, Hispanic to boot.  A little problem, though.  His state did business with a guy who seemed to like giving money to local office holders.  Richardson folded, Obama agreed to pick up the cards.

Then there's Judd Gregg, Republican Senator from New Hampshire.  He has "philosophical differences" with the President, philosophical differences that a week ago he hadn't noticed.  So much for this little bit of bipartisanship.  Hands across the aisle?  Maybe not.

This leaves us without a secretary of commerce.  Maybe that's not such a bad thing.  Maybe we really don't need anyone in that job.

What does this guy do, anyway?  Kind of a cheerleader for American industry, a vacant concept these days.

We could do with a few fewer cabinet ministers -- uh -- secretaries.  Keep the payroll lower during the recession.  

Can you name any previous Secretaries of Commerce?  Here's one:  Carlos Gutierez, a former big shot at Kellogg's and the guy who resigned when Bush left office.  Any idea what he did?  

Didn't think so.

This guy is kind of like cheerleader for American exports.

So here's a suggestion:  Dick Parsons.  Parsons is an executive of marvelous accomplishments in New York's Rockefeller administration, as head of the Dime Savings Bank and as head of Time Warner.  He's smart, he's savvy, he's accomplished, he's mature, he's black.

Or how about Mike Bloomberg.  He's smart, he's savvy, he's accomplished, he's mature, he's Jewish.

Not good enough?  How about Bob Lutz, about to retire from General Motors after nearly 50 years in the car business.  Who knows more about the economy than a car guy?  He's smart, he's savvy, he's accomplished, he's mature, he's Swiss.

How about Warren Buffet?  He's smart, he's savvy, he's accomplished, he's from Omaha and he's too rich to corrupt.

How about David Letterman?  He has no qualifications.  But at least he's funny, and on purpose.

This shouldn't be a tough job to fill.

But it's turning out that way.

Shrapnel:

--A guy with a trout hatchery lost most of his stock.  A next door farmer over-fertilized and sent the fertilizer into the water and now the guy has an acre of dead fish.  It's going to be one hell of a Friday.

--Figure out this one:  There are three CVS pharmacies in the neighborhood.  All of them sell cosmetics and toothpaste and paper towels and cereal.  But not all of them sell pharmaceuticals.

--Verizon is still trying to sell "Fios" fiber obtic service in the neighborhood, as it has for almost a year, and they keep sending snail mail pitches.  Problem is, when you call them, they tell you they keep advertising, but can't yet supply the service in "your zip code."

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

510 Ignoring the Hood

510 Ignoring the 'Hood

"Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til  it's gone..."  --Joni Mitchell

In the song, they "...paved paradise and put up a parking lot." Is not always true.  Sometimes, the parking lot's an improvement. Take Moote Pointe, NY where they elevated the railroad tracks and put up a parking lot.  Now, they you don't have wait 20 minutes while the railroad crossing gates bounce up an down, keeping the light red.  You can get to the train without waiting forever when heading for the station.

Sometimes a parking lot's an improvement.  Sometimes, you don't realize what you have.

The first house was at 711 Walton Avenue. That's in the deep south.  The deep south Bronx, that is.  It is 43 seconds from the front door to Yankee Stadium, on foot.  Did any of us ever make the trek?  No.  Forty three seconds away from Mantle and DiMaggio, and no one cared.  Forty three seconds to the House that Ruth Built.  Did anyone go?  No.  Fifty cents for a seat in the bleachers.  Did anyone go?  No.

Now, they're building a new stadium.  It's a couple of hundred feet farther than the original. Will anyone from the neighborhood go?  Unlikely.

The second house was at 49-09 41st Street, in Queens, five minutes away from some of the great factories of the postwar era.  CN disinfectant, Swingline Staplers, Amcan Fancy Feathers, Eagle Electric, Bordon's Milk, Executone, Bryers Ice Cream, Sunshine Biscuits, Chicklets Chewing Gum, Silvercup Bread, Sweetheart Soap.  Did anyone go?  Only us kids.  We had no toys, so we played with the junk these factories threw out on the street during the war.  But the grownups?  Nah.  What did they know?

All that's gone now except the feather factory and the company that made electric switches.

We brats knew what we had.  The "grownups" didn't have a clue.

Lot of parking in the south Bronx now.  And in Long Island City.

Mr. Steinberg's Shell Station and two story parking lot's now a Korean church.

Executone's  building  now is "LaGuardia Community College."

Swingline now is a bunch of little workshops that produce ... nothing worth noting.  Borden's and CN are long gone.
                                                
Back in the Bronx, the Stadium is coming down, making way for a brand new ballpark, one that will be priced over the heads of the people on Walton Avenue.

But those of us who could walk to the stadium, or to Amcan or Eagle or CN or Chiclets, never realized what we had, and what we don't have now.

Want to take a stroll to the Stadium:?  Nah.  No one who's real can afford even a bleacher seat.  Plus there are no more Mantles or DiMaggios.  Watch it on TV instead.

SHRAPNEL:

--A-Rod is Alice in Wonderland.  He falls down a rabbit hole and encounters a syringe with a note, "inject me."  So he does, not knowing what's in the needle and he grows 10 feet tall just like Alice, and hits a zillion home runs as a result.

--Would DiMag do the same?  Hell, no.  He'd look at the syringe and the table and say "siete della vostra mente?  Quello stuff omocidio  
dis."  Or "Are you out of your mind?  That stuff's murder."

--Not even the Red Sox would have gone for this junk in those days.  But that was before Alex Rodriguez.  And it was years after George W. Bush ran the Texas Rangers baseball team.


I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

509 The Upside of Cold

509 The Upside of Cold

This house makes ice in the wintertime.  It drips from holes in the leaders and gutters and forms icicles big enough and sharp enough for a replay of "Titanic," only there's no ocean around here.   Taller than an NBA player, sharper than a Ginsu knife.

What doesn't become part of the giant icicle lands on the porch rail and starts forming a blob.  Eventually, the blob turns into an ice sculpture.  Or maybe a three dimensional Rorschach test.

In its first incarnation, the ice blob formed what looked like a small octopus, with it's head on the rail and its feet dangling.  As it warmed and cooled, it turned into a giant frog -- two huge eyes on the top of its head.  Later, it became a long haired pregnant woman reclining.  Then it was a giant squid, similar to the octopus, but with longer legs and a taller head.

A newspaper friend asked "you got pictures?"

"Nah.  Thought about it, but it was more fun to keep the pictures in the mind's eye than on whatever they call the digital version of film."

"Idiot.  There's bucks in that," he said.

Now, it's getting warm.  The blob is just a blob again.  No one wants a picture of that.  So we knocked it off the rail and into the business end of the neighbor's central air conditioning unit, where it probably melt, cause damage and an insurance claim.

The frog was the best of the Rorschach tests.  It couldn't have been mistaken for anything else.

This year's giant icicle has also melted away.  It was tempting to try to remove it.  But an earlier lesson well learned prevented that.

Year before last, it got so big, we went after it with an icepick. Useless.  Then with a hair dryer.  Equally useless.  Finally, a hammer.  That didn't do much to the icicle except move it a little.  Just enough to separate the crummy plastic siding from the house.  Eventually, that's going to end in rotten wood and a repair bill.

It was a sign, well followed, to let the ice do what it wants, when and as it wants.

The ice on the driveway also has melted.  It wasn't pretty or interesting.  Nor was it as durable.

But it was less dangerous, unless you walked on it.

Around here, no one walks.

So... the upside of cold?  Fine sculpture, deadly weapons and free psychotherapy.

SHRAPNEL:

--Recession? What recession?  A local shopping center was so crowded this past weekend you couldn't get a parking space, a meal or through the crowds... which is a good sign, no?

--Poland makes better Vodka than Russia.  Cheaper, too.  There is something cosmically wrong with that.

--The Newsday Newspaper has lopped three of its good columnists off the payroll.  Two were acquaintances.  That makes it look like some remaining writers are closer to the edge, and at least one of THEM is a close friend.




I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

508a Bloomberg Noose

508a  Bloomberg Noose   

When the titans of news tighten the noose, it's more than just former colleagues and present friends who are left up there swinging from the gallows, it's all of us.

"Consolidation" in the news industry is nothing new.  And some big outfits have been contracting for years.  Sometimes, the contractions lead to live births.  Mostly not. Consolidation?  What's that mean?  "You, you and you over there, you're fired.   You, you and you...  over here... you still have jobs, in fact you have two apiece, just not two paychecks apiece."  Consolidation.

The hangman was busy at Bloomberg World Headquarters this week, in a building that looks like a trendy Manhattan glass tower from without and like a 1957 DeSoto from within.

The company that "doesn't do layoffs," and at one time forbade the word from its airwaves and news wires, did its first ever-large scale firing this week.  It's what happens when you have print and TV guys running radio and TV both.  To put it in some perspective, 100 people out of 10-thousand employees isn't a big number.  Unless your number came up.  Furthermore, everyone looks to have gotten decent bucks and benefits before that trapdoor in the gallows opened.

That same kind of noose has tightened at just about every newspaper and broadcaster in the country.  But at Bloomberg?  That's where people go for good benefits and long term job security and an adventurous ride into the world of a large privately held company with the Midas touch and a 10 hour workday.

There was always upheaval there.  But when the upheaval attenuated (it never fully died,) everyone was still somewhere in the company.  One of the "long timers," Phil Gregory, put it this way -- years ago:  "They hire you to do something at which you're at least marginally competent, then put you in something else about which you know nothing, and that's where you stay."  That quote has been years awaiting the light of day, but the titans wouldn't have liked it.  Get Phil in trouble.  Now, it doesn't matter.

Some of these people will land on their feet, which means they'll eventually find similar jobs elsewhere.  Some, near retirement age, will retire.  Others will find other ways to pay the rent.

All of them are pros and most of them are vets of the media circus.  They know that their friends are still their friends, their talent is still their talent, they won't die and they won't starve.  Half will be tempted to write a tell-all book.  Some will even start before realizing that no one outside the organization would read it and no one inside the organization needs to be told, because they already know.

The world does not stop with layoffs at one company or even one industry.  In fact, one like this pales, statistically, compared to those at, say, Microsoft or Chrysler or Macy's.  Democracy will not fall because there are 100 fewer watchdogs on a company's payroll.

But this isn't good news for the Bloomberg 100 and it isn't good news for the people who relied on them for facts and good stories, good investigation, and often good presentation.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.(r)
(c)WJR 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

507 American Idol

507 American Idol

This corner of the world has never expressed appreciation for Sinatra because there isn't all that much to appreciate. But when compared to the current crop of American Idol contenders, Sinatra is (a) unsurpassed and (b) never could have won the competition.

Today's singers confuse raw emotion with thought.  Sinatra understood the difference.  So did Ed Ames and Al Martino.  So do Tony Bennett and Roger Whittaker.  

Watching "Idol" is a wrenching affair.  The so-called singers are all emotion and no thought.  They are all volume without tone.  They are all in-your-face without subtlety.

Frankie couldn't hold a note after, say, 1960.  It didn't matter.  His performances projected the poetry of the lyrics and the emotion of the music.  So did or do the others above mentioned.

Turn on "Idol," and you hear and see a microcosm of what's wrong with us.  It's raw power of voice and raw power of emotion.  No timing, no phrasing, no humanity, no humility, no message.

There's no power in raw power.  Today's "idol" singers are Germany crossing into Poland.  Think Vic Damone or Barry Manilow or Jack Jones are vapid and bland?  You're wrong.  

Sure, they're low key.  But they're delivering a message about themselves and OURselves.

What message?  The message that raw power does not directly equate with either conquest or conviction.  The message that raw emotion is for the insane.

Could any of these old timers have won the final round of "Idol?"  Not terribly likely.  Not today.  But conversely, could any of today's Idol winners be thought of as a future Sinatra or Bennett?  

Absurd.  Of course not!

Sure, times change.  So do tastes and styles.

But music is music and not music is not music.

If you like raw and immature and un-accomplished mock poetry in your songs, by all means, enjoy.

Otherwise, start writing music and lyrics that coordinate more easily with the real human experience.


Shrapnel:

--What does it say about a doctor's office when you wait forever and a day for an "appointments secretary?"  Probably the office doesn't run well.   But the background music is good and identifiable:  "The Young and the Restless" by Percy Faith, "Sail Along Silvery Moon by Billy Vaughn, "Hey There" by David Rose, "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by the 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett and "Walking in Rhythm" by the Living Strings.

--It's been about 24 years since the end of WRFM Radio.  But the titles and artists stick in your head.  Amazing what you retain -- and what you don't.

--It's February.  When the "appointments secretary" finally answered, there was nothing open until May.  I will find this doctor when she's shopping and cut ahead of her on the checkout line.

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

506 Traffic and the Super Bowl

506 Traffic and the Super Bowl

Stupor Bowl Sunday is the best day of the year to travel, especially on the the highway.  It's better than any real holiday.  Better than Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving Day, any day.  

All the football crazies are off the road, watching the game.  You can get from here to there in record time.  

Notice that the various internet map sites specify time-spent along with mileage.  That figure is invalid -- or at least inaccurate -- on any other day of the year.  It doesn't account for accidents, crowding or stupidity.  On Super Bowl Sunday, it's perfect.  No one else is on the road.

You can't speed and you don't have to.  The traffic cops have their radios tuned to the game.  And they resent that they have to work and can't see it.  Go two MPH over the limit and you're ticket bait.  That's the bad news.  The good news is you don't HAVE to go over the limit.  You'll get there fast, no matter where "there" is.  A stroll -- or a roll -- through the park.

In Los Angeles, the freeways are clear.  In New York, even the Cross Bronx is open and moving well.

Stupor Bowl Sunday is a motorist's dream.  And this is not a new phenomenon.  It's been going on for 43 years.

It's also a pedestrian's dream.

Ask Giselle the cop.

She's been pounding a beat on the west side of midtown-south for 15 years.  

"Ive got nothing to do during the game," she says.  "There isn't a soul outside, no matter what the weather."  A tough night?  "Nah.  A few drunks at a few sports bars, the rest of it's 'try to keep awake.'"

Giselle the cop is walking west on 37th street.  She spots a fight outside an all night coffee shop.  She cops up to the fighters and says "you guys break it up.  It's the Super Bowl, be nice."  They aren't nice.  Giselle the cop yanks each guy by his collar, pulls their heads apart, slams 'em together.   

They collapse to the ground.

"My job is to serve and protect," she says.  "The streets of Midtown South are safe for democracy and football. And for my book."



Super Bowl Shrapnel:

--NBC got some last minute sales.  So that means all the Super Bowl ads were filled.  But can you remember a time in the past 43 years they weren't all taken months before the game?

--You'd better believe NBC spent plenty for the game.  There are TV rights, the cost of the broadcast and who knows what-all else.  The $206 million in ad revenue should ease that pain a bit, as long as everyone pays.

And...

--The local university is looking for a "writing coach" to tutor budding scientists in the use of the English language.  A noble effort.  But how will they know when they've found someone who can do it?

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©  WJR 2009